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Life after birth : Special care babies

Which babies need special care after birth?

Special care may be necessary for your baby under the following circumstances:

  • premature baby

  • 'small for dates' baby

  • baby with breathing or circulation problems (or other life threatening problems)

  • severe jaundice in the baby after birth

  • delivery has been very difficult

  • baby has inhaled meconium during birth

  • baby has undergone complex surgery

Doctors caring for your baby will know whether special care is required for your baby or not.

Where are special care babies kept?

Depending on the extent to which observation and assistance is needed, special care babies may be placed in:

  • Postnatal ward along with you

  • Neonatal Unit (NNU) or Special Care Baby Unit(SCBU)

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit(NICU)

Within the above rooms, your baby may be placed in a cot or in an incubator. A ventilator may be used if your baby has breathing problems due to premature lungs.

How can I help my baby in special care?

Your newborn baby needs a lot of love and care to endure the time spent in special care. You and your partner can help:

  • You must touch and stroke your baby through the top of the incubator (or through holes in the sides of the incubator),

  • unless advised not to (because of risk of infection).

  • Talk to your baby in a soothing voice.

  • Always keep your hands clean when touching your baby (as he/she is very weak and can catch infections easily).

  • Help to feed, clean and change your baby (unless told otherwise).

  • Babies under special care fare better if given breastmilk. Hence try to breastfeed your baby if your baby is able to suck. In cases where the baby is too fragile and weak to suck, a tube may be inserted in his nose or mouth into the stomach. Even then, you should try to express your milk and feed it through the tube.

Food for thought...

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